Satirist Stan Freberg, who influenced generations with his witty comedy albums and cartoon voices and memorable advertising campaigns, died Tuesday in Santa Monica. He was 88 and had been suffering from respiratory problems and pneumonia.
His son Donavan posted the news on his Facebook page, saying, “He was, and will always be, my hero, and I will carry his brilliant legacy forward as best I am able.”
The writer-producer crafted some of the funniest TV commercials of the 1960s and ’70s, including “Today the pits; tomorrow the wrinkles. Sunsweet marches on!,” and Contadina’s “Who put eight great tomatoes in that little bitty can?”
He also scored such novelty-record hits as “John and Marsha,” “Saint George and the Dragonet” and “Green Christmas.” His 1961 comedy album “Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America” remains a classic of the form and an influence for a generation of comedians.
Freberg produced the Emmy-winning kids puppet show “Time for Beany” — Albert Einstein was said to be a fan during his years at CalTech — and he hosted numerous variety series and specials on TV and radio.
Among the many characters he voiced were Junyer Bear in “What’s Brewin’, Bruin” and the voice of Beaky Buzzard. For Disney, he voiced Beaver in “Lady and the Tramp” and Wile E. Coyote’s father Cage in the short “Little Go Beep.” He auditioned to play C-3PO in “Star Wars,” but actor Anthony Daniels ended up doing his own voice.
His live-action acting included roles in “The Monkees,” “The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.,” the role of Mr. Parkin on “Roseanne” and “The Weird Al Show.” His “Stan Freberg Show” on radio was controversial for several reasons, including the fact that he refused to accept tobacco companies as sponsors.
Born in Pasadena, Calif., he started voicing Warner Bros. cartoons such as “Roughly Squeaking” and “It’s a Grand Old Nag” as soon as he graduated from high school. He continued working well into his ’80s and released an album, “Songs in the Key of Freberg,” with his wife in 2010.
He is survived by his wife Hunter, son Donavan and daughter Donna Jean.